January 24, 2022

Talk on Afghanistan and UN’s global work, local impact is Feb. 6

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A panel discussion next month will explore local impact of the United Nations’ work globally, along with the organization’s efforts in Afghanistan both before and since the United States’ withdrawal in August.

“The U.N. and Afghanistan: Connecting Global Roads to Local Goals” is from 4 to 6 p.m., Feb. 6 at the Carbondale Civic Center, 200 S. Illinois, Ave. Sponsored by the Southern Illinois chapter of the United Nations Association USA, the discussion follows a business meeting.

The event is free and open to the public and also available for viewing via Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube. Organizers presently plan for the discussion to be available both in person and virtually under guidelines that are compliant with the state’s Restore Illinois plan.

The event may, however, convert to a complete online format, if needed. Registration is via Zoom.

Panelists include SIU faculty/students

Cindy Buys, a professor in the SIU School of Law and a UNA-USA Southern Illinois board member, will moderate the discussion. She will briefly discuss the United Nation’s work in Afghanistan while the United States was operating there and since the U.S. withdrawal last year.

“There are several U.N. agencies actively assisting the Afghan people, such as the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees,” Buys said. Other panelists will discuss their experiences with U.N. agencies and the international community working to improve economic development in Afghanistan.

Charles Ruffner, a forestry professor in the School of Agricultural Sciences, will discuss agriculture projects in the country. Ruffner will highlight projects in Afghanistan that he and other SIU faculty were involved with — the Afghanistan Water and Tech Transfer (AWATT) and Agricultural Development for Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training (ADAPT) projects. As part of the ADAPT project, Ruffner was deployed with the Mississippi National Guard Agribusiness Development Team in Zabul province from August 2012 to May 2013. Ruffner added he often uses slides from a previous presentation titled “Fixing a Broken Land: Attempts to Improve Agricultural Outputs in Rural Afghanistan.”

Buys noted that other panelists will include:

  • Two SIU Carbondale graduate students from Afghanistan, who will provide a perspective on life in Afghanistan.
  • Cheryl Barnett, a U.S. veteran who will discuss her deployment in Afghanistan.
  • Roni LeForge, public relations officer, city of Carbondale, who will discuss efforts by the city along with local civic groups and faith communities to resettle Afghans in Carbondale.

For more information on the event, contact Pamela Umlauf-Brown, the UNA-USA Southern Illinois chapter president, at plauf@siu.edu.